Uses of Asbestos in Construction: Then and Now

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Somah Thong

Asbestos Removal Specialist

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Did you know that over 1.5 million homes in Australia might have materials containing asbestos? In the past, asbestos was popular for keeping homes warm and safe from fire. From the 1940s to the 1980s, it was a major part of Australian buildings. It was used in roofs, walls, and fences of many houses, becoming a signature of old construction techniques.

Nowadays, we know more about the dangers of being around asbestos. This knowledge has led to strict rules about using asbestos in building new structures. The way we use asbestos has changed from being everywhere to only where it’s safe and necessary. This change shows the lasting mark of asbestos on construction and the importance of staying careful to keep everyone safe.

Key Takeaways

  • Asbestos was favoured for its insulation and fire-resistant properties.
  • Australia utilised asbestos extensively from the 1940s to the 1980s.
  • Fibro products were common in Australian buildings.
  • Health hazards associated with asbestos have reduced its modern usage.
  • Current applications of asbestos are highly regulated.
  • The shift from widespread use to controlled application highlights the evolution of construction practices.

The Historical Uses of Asbestos in Australian Construction

Asbestos has a long and interesting history, spanning thousands of years. Initially, ancient cultures found its unique features, using it because it’s strong and doesn’t burn. By the mid-20th Century in Australia, it was a key material in the huge construction surge.

Ancient Beginnings

The use of asbestos goes back more than 4,000 years. The ancient Egyptians and Romans used it to prevent fire damage, in embalming and in clothes. The Greeks used it in building for its strength and long life.

Asbestos history

20th Century Boom

After World War II, Australia saw a construction boom that heavily relied on asbestos. Its demand grew due to the need for cheap building materials. Asbestos was perfect for roofs, walls, and insulation, leading to its widespread use. Many buildings from this time contain asbestos, posing challenges for removal and safety today.

Ancient CivilisationsFire resistance, embalming, textilesEarly recognition of asbestos’s durability and fire-resistant properties
Mid-20th CenturyConstruction materials, insulationMassive incorporation during the Australian building boom

Modern Applications of Asbestos in Construction

Asbestos has a long history of use in construction. Today, its use is limited and strictly controlled. Despite this, asbestos still finds a role in specific construction areas.

Contemporary asbestos use

Insulation Materials

In the past, people praised asbestos insulation for its heat retention and weather protection. Now, safer alternatives have mostly replaced asbestos to reduce health risks. However, many old buildings still have asbestos.

It’s vital to manage or remove it safely. This ensures compliance with asbestos regulations.

Fireproofing and Soundproofing

Asbestos was once preferred for fireproofing due to its resistance to fire. It was also used to make quieter spaces in cities because of its soundproof qualities. Today, its usage must follow strict rules.

These laws protect people from exposure. They also guide the safe handling of any remaining asbestos.

Health Risks and Regulations Over Time

For years, the dangers of asbestos have led to major changes in Australian rules. Getting to know these risks and the growth of regulations is key to keeping construction safe.

Asbestos-Related Diseases

Being around asbestos fibres can severely harm construction workers’ health. It can cause asbestosis, lung cancers, and especially mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer tied to asbestos. These illnesses have deeply affected Australia’s health picture. Our country has had some of the highest mesothelioma rates in the world. This shows how much asbestos was used here in the past.

Regulatory Changes

Australia started to really crack down on asbestos by the late 20th century. This was because of the growing proof of how dangerous asbestos fibres can be. By 2003, there was a complete ban on asbestos across the country. Such rules are vital to lower the risks in construction and to keep workers and the public safe.

It’s crucial to follow safety rules when tearing down, renovating, or fixing up old buildings. These steps help prevent new cases of asbestos exposure. This keeps the public healthy and ensures construction sites are safe. Our dedication to these rules shows how important it is to put health and safety first in construction.

Professional Asbestos Abatement Services

It’s important to have professional asbestos abatement services for our safety. Companies like Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane offer top-notch asbestos removal. They follow the highest standards in Australia, making spaces safer for us all.

Our asbestos abatement professionals do everything from inspections to safe disposal. They make sure every step meets strict rules. This way, they handle asbestos safely and with care.

In Australia, many old buildings have asbestos. That’s why it’s vital to hire experts. Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane knows how to deal with this dangerous material. They also give advice on how to keep buildings safe in the future.

Professional services play a big role in managing asbestos safely. Here’s what they cover:

InspectionThorough examination to identify asbestos presence.
Safe RemovalControlled and safe abatement procedures.
TransportationFollowing approved protocols for moving hazardous material.
DisposalProper disposal methods to prevent contamination.


The history of asbestos in Aussie construction warns us about the need for careful asbestos management. Although its use has dropped, the effects of past use are still seen today in buildings and demolitions. We must keep up our hard work, education, and follow strict safety rules to lower any dangers.

New technologies and safer building materials are helping us reduce health risks from asbestos. These steps show we’re dedicated to making construction safer and protecting our future environment.

Companies like Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane are key in this mission. Their skilled work makes sure we meet safety laws and protects our architectural heritage. By choosing expert asbestos removal, we protect Australians’ health and honor the history of our construction practices.


What were the main uses of asbestos in Australian construction?

Asbestos was a top choice in Australian construction. It was known for keeping buildings warm and safe from fire. You could find it in fibro products like roofs, walls, and fences from the 1940s to the 1980s.

How did asbestos use evolve in Australian building practices?

Asbestos was first loved for being cheap and easy to get, especially after World War II. But as people learned it was dangerous, we used it less by the 1980s.

Why was asbestos so popular in the 20th century?

After World War II, everyone was building fast and on a budget. Asbestos was perfect because it was strong, could stop fires, and kept houses warm. That’s why it was everywhere in Aussie homes and buildings.

Are there any instances where asbestos is still used today?

Today, using asbestos is pretty much a no-go, except in very special cases. But, we still find it in old buildings. These need careful handling or removing of asbestos.

What are the health risks associated with asbestos exposure?

Being near asbestos can make you very sick. It can lead to hard breathing, lung cancer, and a specific cancer caused by asbestos fibres. That’s why Australia stopped using asbestos completely in 2003.

How has the regulation of asbestos changed over time in Australia?

Australia started taking the dangers of asbestos seriously in the late 20th century. By 2003, using asbestos was totally banned. Now, we have strict rules to keep people safe from asbestos during renovations or demolitions.

What services do professional asbestos abatement companies offer?

Companies like Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane help a lot. They check for asbestos, safely take it away, and get rid of it the right way. They make sure everything follows our safety laws, keeping building owners worry-free.

Why is it important to hire qualified professionals for asbestos removal?

You need experts for asbestos because they know how to deal with it safely. They follow all the rules to make sure no one gets hurt and nothing harmful gets into the environment.

How can Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane assist with managing asbestos in heritage buildings?

Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane takes special care with old, historical buildings. They remove asbestos safely, making sure these places keep their history alive while meeting today’s safety standards.

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Somah Thong

Asbestos Removal Specialist

Somah Thong is an experienced, licensed, and qualified asbestos removal specialist and the founder of Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane. Established on June 2, 2010, Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane has become a leading name in the industry, undertaking some of the largest asbestos and demolition projects in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. With a commitment to safety and excellence, Somah and his team have earned a reputation for delivering high-quality services in the asbestos removal sector.